Рart 2. You propose to replace “the art of the barista” by an automated technology?            Part 1.
Alexander Kuzmin: Absolutely. Gas station café is not a glamorous coffee shop. Business of gas stations is a continuous-process model, in which customers have a clear request for the speed of service delivery and quality of products offered. The staff caters to the flow of the gas station’s customers hurrying about their business who want to spend a minimum of time to refuel their car and do not plan to “linger” in the limited space of a gas station. Therefore, making coffee at the gas station is “entrusted” to automatic coffee machines, despite their high cost in comparison with manually driven ones.

Ten years ago, “premium” filling stations segment had a brief period of time during which the leader of the Moscow market had tried to use manual espresso machine, but later abandoned it in favor of a super automatic one. For you, the quality of the coffee beans is primarily determined by whether it is suitable for the use in professional automatic coffee machines installed at your gas station.

Dmitry Petrov: Why do you talk only about super automatic machines? It seems to me that a good coffee is an “alive” beverage and it only should be made manually. At least, this is the kind of coffee I prefer to drink. This usually determines my choice of coffee. You propose to replace “the art of the barista” by an automated technology. Will the result of such a replacement instead of a fragrant invigorating drink be a taste that only remotely resembles the taste of a “real” coffee?

Alexander Kuzmin: Your question already contains part of the answer. At the station works personnel without any special training as barista. Making coffee manually is not a part of their job description, so gas station operators do not have neither time nor the necessary qualifications.

Short-term training for staff will not solve the problem, because it gives only a superficial understanding of the topic and does not provide results of equal quality drinks throughout the whole chain. Let alone of an equally high level of quality. Therefore, the only solution for the given conditions is the use of professional automatic coffee machine which is properly configured and capable of producing required quality of the beverage in the required amounts with minimal staff’s participation in the preparation and service of the coffee machines.

Ksenia Van de Kamp: Business of selling coffee is based on repeated purchases. We, in the US market, see that the mass consumer is inclined to assess the quality of the coffee only in terms “tasty – tasteless” or “like – dislike”, so competitive opposition is won not by the one who beautifully describes the wonderful taste and quality of a coffee blend, but by the one who offers the solutions allowing to form in consumer’s mind a steady cliché “at gas station of this chain they always serve a delicious coffee” or even better – “coffee – it’s that particular gas station”.

Probably for this reason, among the participants of our round table there are no traditional suppliers of HoReCa, whose marketing is based on a long and futile arguments about the “unique” properties of coffee beans offered by them, which the end user is often simply fail to appreciate. We are focusing on another issue – how to ensure the quality of the coffee at all stations of the chain, to ensure repeatability of taste, in fact – how to make the customer think that it was at the stations of the given chain he liked coffee the most. And not to disappoint in this sense. After all, only 5% of visitors to the cafe at the gas station can be classified as true gourmets, who already know in which coffee shop their own personal coffee “guru” work and perceive gas station coffee as a reasonable compromise. The remaining 95% of customers are not interested neither in geography of coffee grains from which a purchased drink is made, nor in the sacrament of roasting. Even the starting year of manufacturer’s coming into market doesn’t matter. At the heart of their interest is still the same taste and smell of the coffee, as well as the ability to quickly get a flavored drink and be on their way.

By the way, the same demands to coffee are generated by office workers who can not leave their posts for a coffee break. Perhaps that is why it was so easy for us to work with Artem’s company – IT-specialists have always loved coffee and know the price of automatic systems. Our proposal to work on the remote device for management systems to ensure the quality of the beverage in the café at the gas stations was accepted with predictable enthusiasm.